China's Alibaba to Invest $7.2B in Entertainment Over Three Years
"I didn't come to play," said the Chinese internet giant's new head of entertainment in a memo.
Alibaba Group's top entertainment executive is cementing his reputation as a bold leader at the Chinese e-commerce giant.
Yu Yongfu was named CEO of Alibaba's newly consolidated media and entertainment subsidiary in October. This week, the 40-year-old executive pledged to invest $7.2 billion (RMB50 billion) in media and entertainment over the next three years, adding that he "didn't come to play." Content will be a focus of investment, he also said. The statements were made in an internal memo reviewed by Reuters.
An Alibaba Group spokesperson confirmed the memo but declined to elaborate on the plans.
Alibaba brought all of its media and entertainment holdings under one affiliate in October, at the same time that Yu was placed at the group's head. The new Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group comprises the film studio, Alibaba Pictures Group, streaming video giant Youku Tudou, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper and various other sports, games, literature, music and digital entertainment divisions.
Yu's rise within Alibaba has been swift and relentless. He joined the company via an acquisition in 2014, and was named CEO of the group's mobile internet division in 2015. Part of his new appointment in October included taking over Alibaba Pictures Group as CEO, despite his limited background in film. He replaced Zhang Qiang, an industry veteran and former head of China Film Group (for more on Yu's history, see here).
Founded in 2014, Alibaba Pictures has begun gathering momentum in the second half of 2016. The studio entered into a strategic partnership with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment in October. And the first Alibaba Pictures film, See You Tomorrow, opened at the top of the Chinese box office last weekend. Seventeen other films and two TV shows are in development or production at the studio, including a young adult project produced by David Heyman (Harry Potter) and a video game adaptation directed by Renny Harlin.